Archives > September 2009

The African Experience

As we watch the Spanish coastline disappear behind us we can’t help but think about what lies in store for us in Africa.  Our minds are filled with images portrayed in the media but also questions as to the true nature of Africa.  Will we encounter corruption, disease or violence?  What about fairness, well-being and harmony?  We know that in order to gain an understanding of the African people we’ll need to communicate with them.  We have confidence in our ability to communicate with people but will we be able to share in their stories as well as ours?  Will we make a horrible faux pas and be boiled in a cannibal’s cauldron of human soup?  We realize that it’s impossible for us to have complete confidence going into a territory that is so unknown to us.  This uncertainty creates anxiety and warms our skin with anticipation.  Excitement is really the only word for it and adventure is what lies ahead.


Addis to Aswan

Freshly showered and wearing my last clean scraps of clothing, I walk into the chill-out room at the home of our host in Addis Ababa.  Several friendly faces turn, and after meeting everyone, I sit down amidst matresses and pillows.  The one woman in the room besides myself puffs on her sheesha, decides it is time for fresh tobacco and sets about the process of cleaning and reloading the water pipe.  I notice several bottles of coke and water as well as a few bundles of leaves which the company is slowly consuming.  Our host passes me one such bundle, too big to fit both my hands around it and says, "start chewing."  This is chat, an integral part of the Ethiopian way of life and an ideal way to see the social side of Addis.  It is a mild narcotic and not only legal, but sold everywhere in Ethiopia.